The Red Deer Rebels still expect to play hockey this fall at the Centrium.
That was the message from team president, GM and head coach Brent Sutter on Thursday, amid uncertainty about the status of Westerner Park and the arena, which has been home to the Rebels since 1992.
Wednesday, Red Deer City council approved up to $2 million for Westerner Park to stay operational.
On Jan. 29, the city assumed financial oversight of Western Park and has been conducting a review of its finances. The city also approved an emergency operating grant of $1 million for Westerner Park earlier this year.
All this comes as the Rebels potentially plan to play games in just three months’ time at the Centrium, located on the Westerner Park grounds.
The WHL is still hoping to play a full 68-game season with at least half capacity in its arenas, meaning the Rebels would play 34 times at the Centrium in 2020-21, between October and March.
Sutter said they’ve been in contact with Westerner Park, and he insisted they will play at the Centrium if the puck does drops this year.
“It doesn’t affect us at all. We’re working with them right now. Moving forward, it’s status quo,” he said.
The Rebels and Westerner Park signed a 15-year lease agreement in January of 2005. Sutter said they are working toward a new deal.
He said the Rebels have been in touch with Hockey Canada about the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championships, which are slated for Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 at Rogers Place in Edmonton and the Centrium in Red Deer.
Sutter said that decision is out of the team’s hands, but he doesn’t expect news on it until at least August.